Civic Nationalism: A Canadians Perspective

There are so many inherent contradictions in the concept of Civic-Nationalism that it’s hard to know where to even begin. It’s described by political philosophers is a non xenophobic form of nationalism based on shared values such as freedom, equality, tolerance, and individual rights. The fact that very few citizens of modern liberal democracies could even define it is hardly proof of its irrelevance in terms of political discourse. Civic nationalism, or citizenship by social contract as opposed to a shared ethnicity or heritage was the very ideological basis of post-revolutionary France and America, and came to be viewed as the most civilized form of statehood in a post-racial era. The fact that Canadian Civic nationalists are actually liberals in the classical sense is exemplified by their crusades against Shariah Law, and in favour of absolute freedom of speech. They view the encroachment of Islam into the public sphere as a violation of secularism and the recent trends toward the criminalization of blasphemy is an assault on freedom of expression. Both of these principles being at the core of the liberal-democratic philosophy.

Those who view personal freedom as paramount reject the idea that there is such a thing as a common good. They would argue that there are as many conceptions of the good as there are individuals, and that said individuals are free to articulate their lives according to a personal definition as long as it doesn’t inconvenience there neighbor. According to Canadian professor and philosopher Georges Grant: “To modern political theory, man’s essence is his freedom. Nothing must stand in the way of our absolute freedom to create the world as we want it. There must be no conceptions of good that put limitations on human action.”

This moral relativism is built into Civic nationalism emphasis on a personal definition of “the good”, and this is why most of its proponents would also tend towards the non-assimilation model of multiculturalism. According to their logic each racial group is free to pursue their own particular version of ‘The Good Life’ as long as they subscribe to the superficial political culture which is itself far from fixed. It would certainly agree with Frankfurt School philosopher Jürgen Habermas who argued that immigrants only responsibility was to ascend to the principles of the Constitution within the scope of interpretation determined at a particular time.

Pierre Trudeaus deconstruction of Canadian identity in favor of feel-good pluralism which few civic nationalist would object to seem to foreshadow Habermas’s later statement that: “In man countries the majority culture is fused with the general political culture. This fusion must be dissolved. The level of the shared political culture must be uncoupled with the level of subcultures and their pre-political identities.”

Canadians civic nationalist demand for mere surface-level assimilation by newcomers explains why their only real issue with mass immigration is the threat of Islamification. They correctly identify the unlikelihood of Muslim communities abiding by the minimal standards imposed on them in a liberal democracy. Where as they view other ethnic communities, no matter how large, as having no problem in doing so.

By reducing citizenship to the compliance with a few legalistic principles; themselves subject to change as more as evolve Civic nationalism inevitably leads to the dissolution of national differences. It’s advocates would probably agree with Francis Fukuyamas oft-quoted statement that liberal democracies represent the end of history. The final stage in the evolution of Western political systems.

Consequently if Civic nationalism represents in political terms “the one best means”, then to paraphrase George Grant: “How much difference can there be between societies whose faith in the one best means transcends even cultural and linguistic differences? This is besides the fact that the tacit acceptance of Multicultural Doctrine tends towards the elimination of national differences for other more obvious reasons. Nothing is more similar to an egalitarian multiracial nation then another egalitarian multiracial nation.”

If different societies based on individual rights and freedoms inevitably become indistinguishable from one another, then what is the need for nationalism? Patriotic gestures become just another form of virtue signaling. Canadian Civic nationalist reluctance to identify themselves, if they are of European descent, as part of a racial group in danger of becoming demographically irrelevant in the very near future means that the criticisms of globalism are mostly symbolic.

The separation of Canadian-ness from any racial connotations, and calls for assimilation being limited to the adherence to so-called Canadian values leaves all patriotic discourse interchangeable and subject to further deconstruction by the left.

Conservative party leadership front-runner Maxime Bernier’s immigration platform, seen by many as a sane alternative to our current prime minister’s policies is nonetheless an example of civic nationalism inability or unwillingness to identify the threat posed by immigration. On his official website he states that: “Newcomers should be expected to adopt widely shared Canadian values such as the equality of men and women, tolerance for diversity, and respect for Canadian law.” If tomorrow the entire population of Canada was mongrelized into a beige mass of indeterminate ethnicity while still meeting these lukewarm preconditions; something would have been irretrievably lost. What that something is civic nationalists dare not say.

The Québec Charter of Values proposed by the governing Parti Québécois in 2013, under Premier Pauline Marois was another example of this. This last stand of Quebec identity with its neutered vocabulary of shared language, secularism, and the equality of men and women suggest that such sterile calls for superficial assimilation typical of civic nationalist discourse are unable to provide sufficient defense against globalism and the disillusion of national differences.

The perceived double-standard of maintaining Catholic symbols at the National Assembly, inarguabley a key component of traditional French-Canadian identity, while banning overt religious symbolism such as the hijab in the civil service reveals the dissonance inherent in civic nationalism. All efforts to safeguard national uniqueness based solely on legal principles are ultimately futile. The preservation of a shared religious heritage, and for secularism, and religious freedom are mutually exclusive. And refusing to challenge the underlying assumptions about diversity, pluralism, and human rights theology; Canadian civic-nationalist cannot claim to represent an effective bulwark against the excesses of Cultural-Marxism in this country.

The belief in individual freedom over all other considerations leave them ideologically ill-equipped to reign in the ever-increasing moral decay, illustrated by transgender-mania for instance. At best their protests are limited to legalistic arguments against the government awarding them special privileges, or banning criticism of their alternative lifestyle.

Fundamentally civic-nationalism is based on the notion that all lifestyles are alternative. And that state imposed definitions of normalcy equivalent to authoritarianism.

Dr. Kevin B. MacDonald was recently asked about whether civic-nationalism could truly provide a viable solution to the demographic collapse of the white population in western nations. His answer summed it up nicely: “Civic nationalism is weak tea and not a solution for our problems. I can’t see how to restrict immigration within this intellectual framework in a way that would preserve a White majority. And within such a “nation” there is no real intellectual foundation for White identity. Ultimately we have to identify with our people in a racial sense or in the long run it will indeed be genocide.”

Grant, George “Lament for a Nation: the Defeat of Canadian Nationalism”. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1965, page 55.
Habermas, Jürgen “Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic State”. In “Inclusion of the Other”, MIT Press, 1998, page 228.
Habermas, “The European Nation-State: On the Past and Future of Sovereignty and Citizenship,” in Inclusion of the Other, p.118.

It’s late, though I would share with you my perspective on nationalism in general.

I am from the Philippines, in my country there’s hundreds of ethnicities and cultures that are located within it. After the end of Spanish colonization, the formation of the Filipino nation centered around the brown skinned, Tagalog speaking, Catholics. This alienated many Filipinos of other ethnicities, especially those who are not Catholic, and those who are not Tagalog speaking. As such, it angered my fellow countrymen who are neither Catholic nor Tagalog speaking. The result of this is the constant whining about “Imperial Manila” by Cebuanos and other non Tagalogs and the Moros who waged an endless war against my government. I think this is a failure by the Spaniards to properly christianize and hispanize everyone within my country in contrast to what they did in Latin America. As a consequence of history we have to live by those failures.

With that in mind, I think civic nationalism is a better way to define the identity of my country as it transcends divisions such as race, ethnicity, religion, culture, and language. However, if there is one thing I agree with ethno nationalist is that compatibility of those things are important for people that differ in those things to co-exist successfully. This is not evident in Mindanao where we have to fight those Islamic rebels ever since independence.

Canada as I understand is formed by an odd mix of American Loyalists who fled America after the Revolution and French colonists whose colony was annexed by Britain after France’s defeat in the Seven Years War. The only thing that kept the two groups together, is opposition to America and loyalty to the British Crown. That in itself is a form of civic nationalism as the two groups did not have anything in common with the exception of race. With that, I can say is without Civic Nationalism, there would be no Canada.